District 86 Superintendent Nick Wahl last week ruled in support of the Hinsdale South English department on a curriculum objection to the showing of two R-rated movies in a Film as Literature course, but that doesn't mean the issue's dead.
Victor Casini, the Hinsdale South parent who filed the first District 86 curriculum objection in at least eight years over the showing of American Beauty and Brokeback Mountain in the film class, has alerted the district that he is appealing Wahl's decision, which concluded that all district policies were followed by the course's teacher and department.
Casini's appeal maintains that the films are not appropriate for a class of juniors and seniors in high school, that his family was not treated as families considering the class in the future will, and that the showing of the movies should have been temporarily halted as the objection process took place.
READ: D86 Parent on Objection to Racy Movies: 'Maybe Mine Will Open the Door'
Wahl's decision was sent to Casini on Oct. 3 and summarized the findings of complaint manager Tom Paulsen:
"After careful review of the findings from Mr. Paulsen, it is evident that the building followed District 86 Board Policy 6:210 whereby the building principal approves all R-rated films shown. District 86 Administrative Procedures were also followed in that the teacher, Ms. [Kristin] Wimsatt, sent out a permission slip to gain parental consent for each student to view specific R-rated movies as a part of the Film as Literature course. In addition, Ms. Wimsatt and Mr. [David] Anderson, Hinsdale South English Department Chair, provided you with information related to the movies Brokeback Mountain and American Beauty and indicated the edits of certain implied sex scenes in both films. Mr. Anderson also provided you with the following options: (1) your son completes an alternative assignment in lieu of watching the films with no academic consequence (2) your son watches the films as edited (3) your son changes to a different course without penalty. You indicated that you were treated with respect and consideration throughout your interactions with the staff and administration at Hinsdale South and District 86."
Wahl's decision said that, going forward, written permission will be required at the beginning of the course for students to view its R-rated movies, and if R-rated movies are going to be shown, a list of the movies will be available through the English department at the time of class registration.
Casini broke his appeal down to three questions posed to the district:
- "Is it appropriate for our district to include as part of its classroom instruction the films American Beauty and Brokeback Mountain to students of junior and senior age?"
- "Should my family have been afforded the same protections that Superintendent Wahl is instituting for the 2013-14 school year?"
- "Did the Administration follow District policy when it commenced showing the Subject Films prior to the exhaustion of my rights as a parent under the Uniform Grievance Procedure (Policy No. 2:260)?"
Casini has said that this entire controversy might not have surfaced had the list of movies been available at registration and reacted to Wahl's new provision in his appeal.
"This new procedural remedy was not afforded to parents this year, yet there was no admission that such remedy was lacking this year and no attempt by the administration to address or resolve this inequity."
District 86 Board Policy 2:260 accounts for Casini's right to appeal Wahl's decision to the District 86 Board of Education. According to the policy, the board has the power to “affirm, reverse, or amend” the decision. The board can also direct the superintendent to gather more info.
READ: How Does a Curriculum Objection Work in District 86?
"Within 5 school days of the Board’s decision, the Superintendent shall inform the Complainant of the Board’s action," the policy reads. "The Complainant may appeal the Board of Education’s decision to the Regional Superintendent pursuant to Section 3-10 of The School Code and, thereafter, to the State Superintendent pursuant to Section 2-3.8 of The School Code."
Casini, a Burr Ridge resident and former board member in Gower District 62, has said throughout the objection process that he thinks the board of education should have power to approve class materials like movies.
“The school board is elected for this very reason,” Casini told Patch last month. “The curriculum is ultimately in the school board’s duties.”
Board member Richard Skoda agrees. He said at the board's Sept. 24 meeting that he think its "ridiculous" that the board approves textbooks, but not movies.
READ: D86 Movie Controversy: Board Member Wants More Oversight
The next District 86 Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Oct. 22 at Hinsdale South.
Other Patch stories on the District 86 movie issue:
- D86 Board Decision on Racy Movies Not What Most Audience Members Wanted
- Complaints About Sex-Heavy Films in School Prompt Cops to Review District Emails
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